Specialist makes its mark on new deal
A SPECIALIST ceramic transfer developer has secured a deal with a manufacturer after coming up with a way to apply barcodes to glass tubes.
Xerital, based in Slippery Lane, Hanley, has barcoded the entire stock of glass tubes at manufacturer Markes International.
The high temperature decals, which incorporate the barcode, are fired on to the glass tubes, resulting in a permanent marking that is strongly resistant to scratching, chemical attack and thermal processes.
The final, fired product also provides a high resolution output – vital for accurate code scanning and reading.
The barcodes carry information needed for product tracking and operative performance, through to warehousing and stock control.
Xerital, which was launched in 2004, said working with Markes has helped move the company, which also supplies barcode decals for the ceramic sanitaryware industry, forward.
Markes International, based near Cardiff, has the widest range of thermal desorption consumable products on the market.
All of its sorbent tubes are now labelled by Xerital.
Howard Quinn, Xerital director, said: "This project at Markes International has turned out to be an excellent demonstration of the advantages of our specialist ceramic decals for glass applications.
"We co-operated very closely to achieve this success."
Markes's sorbent tubes are used for capturing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from air for lab analysis.
Labelling had comprised an alphanumeric serial number and Markes branding, but the business wanted to include the serial number in barcode format.
Steve Oldfield, consumables product manager at Markes International, said: "The requirements of this job were very challenging and any solution had to be precisely tailored to our requirements in order to meet our high standards.
"Once VOCs have been sampled on to our sorbent tubes, they are analysed by thermal desorption–gas chromatography.
"As part of this process, the tube has to be heated to a high temperature under a flow of inert gas and for some applications the temperatures can be as high as 400°C."
The tubes also have a long lifetime so the barcode had to be hard-wearing. Additionally, it had to be formed on the tube's relatively small curved surface, but still be easily readable by a hand-held scanner.
Mr Oldfield added: "When we met with the team at Xerital, we straightaway found them to be very positive and quick to gain a clear understanding of our requirements.
"The samples they provided for us were applied using a kiln-fired ceramic decal and our testing showed these to be extremely good. In particular, the white ceramic background made barcode-reading far more reliable than with sorbent tubes from other suppliers."
The barcode decals are heated up to 700°C during firing so are more than capable of performing well at the high temperatures of lab analysis.
They can be applied to new or existing tubes and are particularly useful for large-scale monitoring studies.
High-temperature barcodes can be serialised to customers' required size and code and integrated into their existing IT system. Xerital, which employs four staff, would not reveal the value of the contract with Markes, but the companies hope to continue working together.
Mr Oldfield said: "We are committed to building on our relationship with Xerital and are now exploring innovative ways to introduce colour labelling."
Has your firm secured a big deal? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org